Will Lipman / Engadget
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Even if you’re not the type to hang stockings during the holidays, you can probably appreciate the simplicity of a small gift. Not only are they portable, but they can also be easier on your wallet than, say, a new game console or an unwieldy drone. If you’re struggling to come up with good stocking stuffers for a tech-savvy friend, we’ve gathered some of our favorite gadgets here. The best part: All of them come in at under $100.
Aukey 10,000mAh USB C Power Bank with Foldable Stand
Will Lipman Photography / Aukey
A power bank is essential for a trip or long day at work when your phone’s putting in overtime. They’re also great gadgets for anyone not buying a new smartphone this year and in desperate need of a battery boost. This one from Aukey goes a step further than most portable packs with its built-in kickstand that makes it easy to use your phone while it’s charging. Pop that out and you can prop up your smartphone while charging it, making it more comfortable to watch videos and scroll social media. And with the bank’s assorted USB-A and USB-C ports, you can charge up to three devices at the same time.
Buy USB-C power bank with stand - $40
Logitech Pebble M350
Logitech’s Pebble M350 is one of the cutest wireless mice we’ve seen in a long time. And it’s made better by its endearing, compact design that actually feels quite comfortable while you’re using it. It’s quite comfortable to use for hours on end and it’s much quieter than other mice -- no annoying clicking noises here. You can connect it via Bluetooth to your laptop, or use the included USB receiver if you have a machine that has a USB-A port. You also won’t need to bring an extra charging cable with you; this mouse runs on a single AA battery and should last up to 18 months on a charge.
Buy Logitech Pebble at Amazon - $29 Buy Logitech Pebble at Walmart - $32
Amazon Echo Flex
The Echo Dot is small, but some people don’t even have space for that on their desk or countertop. That’s where the Echo Flex comes in: It’s a plug-in mini smart speaker that lets you talk to Alexa. We like that it has a built-in USB port, allowing you to charge mobile devices through it, and you can buy handy accessories for it including a night light attachment. Amazon even included the mic-mute button so, just like larger Echo speakers, you can disable Alexa whenever you need more privacy.
Buy Echo Flex at Amazon - $25
Roku Streaming Stick+
Will Lipman Photography
Roku’s Streaming Stick+ is one of the easiest ways to watch 4K content anywhere you go. We’ve long recommended it for its portability and ease of use. It can stream TV shows and movies from Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and others, and it helps that Roku also has one of the most extensive catalogs of free-to-stream content you can find in the Roku Channel. Not only are there movies and TV shows free to watch, but there’s also live news and other programming from the likes of ABC News, Cheddar and others.
Buy Streaming Stick+ at Amazon - $48 Buy Streaming Stick+ at Walmart - $48
Will Lipman Photography / Amazon
Amazon’s regular Kindle is just small enough to fit into a stocking and it’s one of the most useful gadgets you can get. Sure, it’s easy to read books and articles on your smartphone, but the Kindle’s e-paper display with adjustable front light is much easier on your eyes, especially in the evening when you want to be careful about excessive amounts of blue light. It holds thousands of books, works with Audible when paired with Bluetooth headphones and lasts weeks (yes, weeks) on a charge. It’s easily the best piece of tech to get a bookworm or someone who wants to read more on the regular.
Buy Kindle at Amazon - $90
Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C Ethernet Hub
Will Lipman Photography / Anker
Many people have been perfecting their home offices ever since quarantine orders went into effect. If someone on your list works primarily on a laptop and doesn’t have a ton of space to spare, Anker’s PowerExpand+ can make it easier for them to be productive. Plugging it into just one USB-C port gives you a bunch of other options including two USB-A connections, an HDMI socket and an Ethernet jack. We particularly like that the 7-in-1 model includes an Ethernet port, but if your giftee relies solely on WiFi, you could opt for the similar 5-in-1 hub that forgoes wired internet access.
Buy PowerExpand+ hub at Amazon - $40 Buy PowerExpand+ hub at Walmart - $40
Yubico Yubikey 5C NFC
You may not think of a security key as a good gift, but it’s one of those practical gadgets that gets used a hell of a lot more than other trinkets. Yubico’s YubiKey 5C NFC is one of its latest devices and it lets you securely log in and authenticate by either tapping the key to your NFC-capable device or by plugging it into the device’s USB-C port. If this is your giftee’s first time using a key like this, Yubico has a bunch of app-specific instructions for connecting the key to programs like Gmail, 1Password, Duo Mobile and others on its website. The company makes a bunch of keys that support all types of USB connectors, but getting the USB-C model future-proofs the gadget for a bit. (And since most smartphones support NFC nowadays, you’ll be in the clear.)
Buy YubiKey 5C NFC at Yubico - $55
SanDisk Dual Drive Luxe
Will Lipman Photography / SanDisk
It can be all too easy to fill up the storage space on your mobile device with photos, apps or documents. SanDisk’s Dual Drive Luxe is an easy way to get more space without spending hundreds on a hardware upgrade. The “luxe” part comes from its all-metal enclosure and it truly does feel more substantial than SanDisk’s Dual Drive Go, which otherwise has the same swivel design. The Luxe has USB-C and USB-A connectors, making it compatible with old and new gadgets alike. And if you’re using it with a mobile device, the accompanying app gives you a convenient way to set up automatic backups and organize the data you’re moving to the drive.
Buy Dual Drive Luxe (128GB) at Amazon - $22.50
Prive Revaux Blue light blocking glasses
You or someone you know is probably already spending too much time on their smartphone or tablet. Then 2020 hit and that time increased dramatically. Blue light blocking glasses can help ease the eye fatigue that comes with too much gadget use, particularly at night, and I’ve particularly come to love Prive Revaux’s specs.
Yes, you can find cheap blue light blockers pretty much everywhere now, but the Prive Revaux’s frames are not only more stylish than most but they’re also more sturdy. Most of its frames are made of Italian acetate and they don’t feel as if they’ll snap if you apply even the slightest amount of pressure. You can also customize the amount of magnification you need if you’re using them as readers in addition to blue light blockers. While you can grab a single pair for around $30, QVC has a solid bundle that gives you two pairs for under $50.
Buy Prive Revaux glasses (2-pack) at QVC - $46
These circular stickies are popular for many reasons. Not only do they make it easy to one-hand hold and prop up your smartphone but you can also remove them without fuss. That means you can switch them out depending on your style preferences, or just take the PopSocket off when you don’t need it.
And PopSockets are an ultimate stocking stuffer thanks to their small size but also thanks to their affordable price. You can find basic PopGrips in most stores for $10, but beware of knock-offs. I’ve tried a couple and they’re just not as good as the original PopGrips, mostly due to weak adhesive or complicated “popping” mechanisms. If you want something more unique, you can opt for specialized designs (or custom-made ones) by ordering directly from the company.
Buy PopSocket at Amazon - $10 Buy PopSocket at Walmart - $10
Smart Dog Smart Touch door opener
Is this a gadget in the traditional sense? Not really, but it’s a piece of technology anyone could use right now. The pandemic isn’t disappearing once the clock strikes midnight on the last day of 2020. We’ll all need to stay vigilant about our health (and that of others), and one way to do that is by keeping your hands clean. This accessory from Smart Dog lets you open doors, press buttons and interact with touchscreens without using your hands, thereby protecting you from the dirt and disease often spread in public spaces. It certainly won’t replace regular hand-washing, but it will help you keep them cleaner for longer when you must leave the house.
Buy Smart Touch door opener (2-pack) at Amazon - $10